From Wikipedia: Kata (traditionally, 型) (literally: "form") is a Japanese word describing detailed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Each is a complete fighting system, with the movements and postures of the Kata being a living reference guide to the correct form and structure of the techniques used within that system.Karate Kata are executed as a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. The practitioner is counseled to visualize the enemy attacks and their responses. Karateka "read" a Kata in order to explain the imagined events. The kata is not intended as a literal depiction of a mock fight, but as a display of transition and flow from one posture and movement to another, teaching the student proper form and position, and encouraging them to visualize different scenarios for the use of each motion and technique. There are various forms of Kata, each with many minor variations.
If that is all it is, it is a very inefficient process to retain and pass along techniques with, especially over multiple generations. It would instead be far more efficient to train just the technique as it is repetitively and systematically add stress and combative reality (speed, power and real intent) as in Judo.
Kata of course can also be used is this manner, but there are so many other details that they embody that are far more important and useful in a real encounter under stress and physical limitations:
- First and foremost developing the mind body connection where nuero pathways are created and or stimulated for quicker response, this only comes with repetition.
- Forming and making automatic the certain tools to best access the vital targets of the opponent.
- Developing the automatic deployment of angular arm and leg movements to deploy tools, or formed weapons to correctly access Kyusho targets.
- Developing the dynamics behind each application so that when you deploy the weapon to a specific target it has the components to cause the greatest effect by going deep inside the opponents structure.
- The balance of the body in certain postures to deliver the fore mentioned dynamics with maximum effect and no loss of personal physical control.
There are of course many other principles that these forms endow the consistent practitioner with as well as these, but the core is not based in set technique, but rather attributes that can be used in all techniques.
Doing correct form is not the same as living that form... it is not performances based where the deeper worth is found, it is in the living and reliving of the Kata. What that means is you take just one aspect of a single posture... as example the raised hand of Gogen Yamaguci pictured here. We can see a pronounced intent in the positioning (Iron Sword Hand) we can actually see that Yamaguci is living it with all the emotion, intent and mindfulness.
So how is this "Living it" accomplished? Well to take that one tool and work it on the target of choice, you begin by simple application to assure you have the correct dynamics, angles, intent until you accomplish the goal statically be it control or KO. When you do this remember the feeling not just of your hand or the opponents head, but your mental, physical and emotional qualities. Duplicate this as many times as feasible (of course the more the better as it becomes ingrained). Then you begin to work it dynamically working to gain the target, the effect, the feel and the mental/emotional aspect under ever increasing stress and attack scenario, maybe first planned, but eventually spontaneously to actually acquire the tried and true ability.
Once you have accomplished this, each time you do that Kata, you re-live these experiences on all three levels, mental, physical and spiritual. This is what Kata can be if you allow it and then train it ardently... not a group of set techniques that depend on certain attack scenario, but from real spontaneous and urgent need.
Never put Kyusho in your style, put your style into Kyusho. - Evan Pantazi